ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

The ANC’s allies are back on side to support the party in the 2019 national election, for now.

The long-awaited political council took place between the ANC and its allies — the SACP, Cosatu and the South African National Civic Organisation — over the past two days, after years of fraught ties that included calls by the allies for the removal of former president Jacob Zuma.

The SACP took a decision to consider contesting elections on its own at a special congress in 2017 and went ahead with contesting by-elections in Metsimaholo later in the year.

But the allies appear to have now ceased hostilities and are back on talking terms, a move bolstered by Zuma’s recall in February and the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president in December.

The meeting was described as "comradely, frank and honest" by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. While the allies agreed to continue to back the ANC in the upcoming election, much depends on whether the alliance can be "reconfigured" to function more inclusively.

"The alliance agreed that all of us must be on the ground to ensure victory for the ANC in the 2019 election … and in this regard all alliance partners shall participate in the national and provincial list committees," Magashule said.

The SACP presented a document to the meeting on the reconfiguring of the alliance. This document will be used as the basis for further consultation on the reconfiguration of the alliance — a process culminating in an alliance summit later in 2018.

SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said the party was not deviating from its congress resolutions. He said the party’s position was still to go it alone should the process to reconfigure the alliance — which has now started — fail. He said that for now, the SACP was participating in all ANC election programmes.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini welcomed the alliance council, although conceded that it had taken a long time to convene. He said Cosatu had not changed its position to support the ANC. The federation is also heading to a national elective congress in the coming months, which will guide its approach toward its allies.

The allies also agreed that election day, along with May Day and Freedom Day should be nontrading holidays, to ensure that citizens were free to vote and commemorate the holidays more meaningingfully.

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